Milestones: Thursday, October 5, 2023
FIRST TELEVISED PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH — THE 33rd U.S. PRESIDENT, HARRY TRUMAN (1884-1972) ON OCT. 5, 1947, MADE THE FIRST-EVER TELEVISED PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE. His speech was an appeal to Americans to curtail their use of grains so that they could help starving Europeans, so that they could do their part to help the European recovery, in addition to the Marshall Plan, which was established to rebuild Europe after World War II. Although TV was in its infancy in 1947, with few households owning sets, President Truman’s debut on the screen was a game-changer and began a strong relationship between the White House and television (Truman’s predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt, had already made extensive use of radio). Truman’s subsequent White House speeches, including his 1949 inaugural address, were all televised, and the year before, he had become the first presidential candidate to broadcast a paid political ad.
However, Truman was not the very first president to appear on TV. Roosevelt broadcast from the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, but at that time, television was still largely experimental.
ARMY DOCTOR WAS A SPY — Gen. George Washington on Oct. 5, 1775, wrote to the president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock with the alarming news that a letter had been intercepted from Dr. Benjamin Church, surgeon general of the Continental Army, to Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Gage, British commander in chief for North America. A dismayed Washington, who had appointed Dr. Church, opened his letter to Hancock, “I have now a painful tho’ a Necessary Duty to perform respecting Doctor Church, Director General of the hospital.” Church, who as it turned out had spied for the British since 1772, was court-martialed on Oct. 4, 1775. Although the information he had provided to Lt. General Gage was inconsequential, the very act of Dr. Church’s statement of allegiance to the British crown, led to his conviction of treason and sentence of life imprisonment.
Just over a month later, on Nov. 7, 1775, the Continental Congress increased the punishment for espionage: adding to its “articles of war” a mandate for the death penalty as punishment for acts of espionage.
WESTERN ADVENTURE — THE INFAMOUS DALTON GANG, which had terrorized Oklahoma and Kansas with train and bank robberies,was finally defeated on Oct. 5, 1892, through a combination of their own bravado and an alert citizenry. The Daltons, attempting a brazen daylight robbery of two banks in their hometown of Coffeyville, Kansas, quietly rode in, hitched their horses and split up, with Bob and Emmett Dalton targeting First National, while Grat Dalton and his two people targeting Condon Bank. However, the townsfolk, who had spotted the Daltons, were ready for them. While the cashier stalled them with a claim about the safe, the armed citizens stood ready at the entrances. In the ensuing shootout, four townspeople gave their lives; and, of the Dalton Gang, only Emmett survived.
Seriously wounded, he eventually stood trial and was sentenced to life but would wind up serving only 14 years before being paroled. Drawing on his outlaw experience, Emmett Dalton became a Hollywood screenwriter and actor.
NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE — THE DALAI LAMA, the exiled religious and political leader of Tibet, on Oct. 5, 1989 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end the Chinese domination of Tibet. Born in 1935 as Tenzin Gyatso in northeastern Tibet, he was believed to be the reincarnation of the late 13th Dalai Lama, after a visit by Tibetan monks when he was just three years old. The monks took him to Lhasa and installed him — at the tender age of five — as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism. The Chinese government adopted progressively brutal policies against the Tibetan people, which only escalated after the start of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, leading the Dalai Lama to make accusations of genocide. The Chinese government then banned the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and destroyed the monasteries. Traveling the world, The Dalai Lama brought international awareness of Chinese oppression against his people. His autobiography, “Freedom in Exile,” was published in 1990.
The Dalai Lama’s pilgrimage was successful and China found itself the target of Western criticism against its oppression of the Tibetan people and their religion, a battle that is ongoing.
A TECH TITAN IS LOST — STEVE JOBS, THE VISIONARY CO-FOUNDER OF APPLE INC., LOST HIS BATTLE at age 56 to pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5, 2011. Apple, Inc. revolutionized the computer, music and mobile communications industries with the advent of the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Steve Jobs and friend Stephen Wozniak, a computer engineer, had established Apple Computer in 1976 in humble surroundings: Jobs’ parents’ garage. Just a year later, they introduced Apple II, which became the first popular personal computer. Three years later, Apple went public. By his mid-20s, Steve Jobs was already a multimillionaire. Apple debuted the Macintosh in 1984; it was one of the first personal computers to feature a graphical user interface, which allowed people to navigate by pointing and clicking a mouse rather than typing commands. As is sometimes the case with one’s dream company going public, Steve Jobs left Apple Computer after finding himself in a power struggle with its board of directors.
Without Jobs, Apple almost failed; he returned, revived the company and refocused its product line. Apple launched a new series of digital devices, among them, the iPod music player. The company shifted its focus to manufacturing electronic devices such as the iPhone and compatible apps.
SINGER’S ‘YENTL’ BECOMES ACCLAIMED FILM — AUTHOR ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER WON THE NOBEL PRIZE in Literature on Oct. 5, 1978. A 1935 immigrant to the United States — just four years before the Nazis invaded his homeland — Singer wrote in Yiddish about Jewish life in Poland and the United States, and the appeal of his writings expanded into mainstream America. Born into a long ancestral line of Hasidic rabbis, Singer had studied at the Warsaw Rabbinical Seminary before leaving the Hasidic life. He drew inspiration from older brother Joshua, also an author, and began penning his own stories. Isaac Singer’s works chronicled the changes within Jewish families as they responded to assimilation pressures. One of his stories, “Yentl,” became an acclaimed movie: Barbra Streisand both directed and starred in this 1983 film about a girl who yearns so deeply to study Talmudic law that she disguises herself as a boy and goes to yeshiva.
Streisand became the first woman to be nominated for and receive a Golden Globe for Best Director for the film, and “Yentl” received four other Golden Globe nominations and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Score.
See previous milestones, here.
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